Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (1925-2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years. For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9-11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner-up for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and made the Carnegie Medal, Whitbread Award, and Blue Peter Book Award shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.
This modern-day fairy tale featuring a group of endearing mythical creatures (and some less palatable Brits) follows four dwellers of a magical island journeying to London in search of their kidnapped prince. The appointed rescuers‘Cornelius the Wizard (who "could divide twenty-three-thousand-seven-hundred-and-forty-one by six-and-three-quarters in the time it took a cat to sneeze"); Hans, a one-eyed giant ogre; Gurkintrude, an "agricultural" fairy or "growth goddess"; and Odge, a half-grown hag‘have only nine days to complete their mission. After that, the hidden door to their world (located on Platform 13 inside a subway station) will be closed for another nine years. It will take readers less time than the quartet of seekers to realize a mix-up in the prince's true identity. The boy with royal blood is not the obnoxious, portly Raymond Trottle, but rather the Trottles' lowly (and lovable) servant, Ben. While predictability hampers the story's suspense, Ibbotson's dry wit, well-drawn characters and the unraveling-to-tying-up of loose threads provide plenty of amusement. This is light weight entertainment for fantasy buffs. Ages 9-12. (Mar.)
Gr 4-6‘The door between our world and the enchanted Island is only open for nine days every nine years. Unfortunately, in the last minutes before it closes in 1983, the baby prince of the Island is kidnapped by a nasty woman named Trottle. For nine long years, the king and queen pine and plan for his rescue. Which of the magical creatures of their land should be sent to rescue their lost child? Finally, the team is chosen: Cor, an ancient wizard; Gurkie, a lovable agricultural fairy; Hans, a one-eyed giant; and Odge, a resourceful young hag. Guided by the ghosts who guard our end of the portal (called a gump), the team sets out to rescue little Raymond Trottle. While they are charmed by the kitchen boy, Ben, they are horrified by the piggish Raymond, who does not cooperate with their plans. The plucky group, with the help of Ben and the few magical creatures they find in London, tries to cajole and then, desperate, tries to steal Raymond before the gump closes. Ibbotson's lively fantasy is full of fun with its Dahl-like, but less mean-spirited, humor. Children will enjoy the magical creatures, including the cuddly mistmakers who emit fog when they hear music. The author's odd characters are endearing‘poor Odge is something of a failure as a hag, but a rousing success as a friend. Certainly readers won't be surprised to discover that kindly Ben is the lost prince, but they will be delighted by the adventure.‘Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library